Are Memes Relevant to Studying Printed or Digital Texts?

The larger version of this question is really, 'do we need to have a good working knowledge of what memes are in order to usefully expand a sense of our audience, our IB students?  Does such knowledge have some relevance to such new textualities as fan fiction and texts published online using various composition strategies?' It's interesting that, in the last revision of the Language A courses,  various forms of digital texts were suggested as one of the options schools might ...

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

This wonderful title comes from a book about translation recommended a while back by a colleague. It’s a stimulating set of short essays by David Bellos, a distinguished translator, written in a style that makes many of the facets of translation easily accessible—which is why I like using some of the essays, or parts of them, with students. As we study works in translation, it seems a significant omission if we do not take a little time to address the ...

Making esters

We carried out a great lab in school today, making esters. Have you ever done this? What was good about it was that we used a good range of reagents and got some very different results. I set the class up with a range of alcohols and carboxylic acids and told them it was up to them what they wanted to make. We used microscale quantities for two important reasons: 1, As a safety precaution The beauty of using the microscale quantities is that ...

Combining the creative with the critical

Often, IB teachers of the Group A Language and Lit courses regret that there is not much opportunity to do more creative work with their classes. But short exercises can be incorporated into our classes and many of us do that.  Here is one exercise which has not only produced some very lively original pieces with my students, but also raised their consciousness and refined their sense of how prose is constructed and how different effects are created. Obviously there ...

Written by cats and a hamster

It's Extended Essay time in the Northern Hemisphere (perhaps it's always Extended Essay time everywhere), and I'm sure that all students and supervisors are scrutinizing resources very carefully. How careful do you have to be? I thought I'd share these news stories... F.D.C. Willard's pawprint In 1975, The American physicist and mathematician Jack H. Hetherington, at Michigan State University, wanted to publish some of his research results in the field of low–temperature physics in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters. A colleague, who was ...

Searching for the Truth

Continuing my thoughts and writing about fake news, fake web pages, teaching search skills, and ultimately, trying to find the Truth of a matter, this post brings together for your consideration two web articles which are not new, but which work well together. The first is Why Students Can't Google their Way to the Truth, by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, published 1 November 2016.  The authors describe their research at Stamford University: "Over the past 18 months, we administered assessments that ...

‘The problems of the second act’

In a very interesting little book by David Mamet called '3 Uses of the Knife: On the nature and purpose of drama' there is a section called 'The problems of the second act.'  I can't reproduce the whole section here, but I'm going to select a few quotations in the hopes you might find the ideas useful when you are studying plays with your IB students.  What Mamet is proposing is that there is energy from the playwright that can ...

Summer Investigations(3) Works on the PLT: Cheese

For the last of these recommendations, a work composed in Dutch by a Flemish author, A.J de Ridder, writing under the pseudonym, Willem Elsschot.  To my knowledge, Cheese, has not appeared on any IB Language A: Literature syllabus, and I'd like to make the case that it might be very apt, particularly when people are looking for something to include that is not 'dark and depressing,' a request that often comes up in discussions and workshops. Originally published in 1933, this ...

And the results are in!

...Well, they were in a month ago. As teachers, more than anything we are most interested in the grade boundaries for each paper. For two years we were flying blind, trying to guide our students to passing, or in some instance, the elusive 7. And now that information is freely available, and from this point forward, our work will be authentic and based on experience rather than conjecture. So, without further ado, here is the assessment-by-assessment breakdown: IA (the moderated, final mark ...

Integrating CAS and History

In IBDP there has been an emphasis in recent years in integrating the core (EE, TOK and CAS) with the course content in the different subjects. In history, it has been nearly effortless to integrate EE and TOK. The skills in the History IA layer nicely with the Extended Essay, and Theory of Knowledge and the inquiry-based approach to subjects is easily integrated into daily teaching, and again, the IA explicitly calls on TOK skills. CAS can be integrated just as ...